Although the leaves are falling and the weather is turning cooler, our office is continuing to hear from Kansans about home improvement scams. Most commonly, these scams involve tree trimming, paving scams, and home improvement cases where money is paid up front and no work or limited work is completed.
The vast majority of contractors offer legitimate services and quality results. But when the contractor engages in fraudulent or deceptive business practices as part of a scam, our office has the authority to intervene.
A scam we often hear about involves someone claiming to be a contractor approaching a homeowner saying they have “leftover” materials from a neighbor’s job. Then, they offer to do your work at a discounted rate if they can get a portion of their money in advance. Many times, these scammers leave the property with your money and never return.
You should always be especially cautious of people offering door-to-door home-repair or storm clean-up services. Often these transient sales people single-out homes where the homeowner is vulnerable to high-pressure sales tactics – an older person who lives alone, for example.
Here are a few simple tips to remember:
- If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- You should always get multiple written bids on home improvement projects to ensure quotes are reasonable and competitive.
- When selecting a contractor, it is always wise to ask for local references. Working with a well-known, reputable local contractor is always the best way to go.
- Friends, family and neighbors are the best sources for recommendations.
- You should make sure any contractor you work with is insured and carries all of the required local permits.
- Never pay upfront and never give final payment for any work until it has been completed to your satisfaction.
Also remember that special rules apply to contractors who are performing roofing services. In most cases, these contractors are required to register with the attorney general’s office. Ask for a copy of the roofer’s registration certificate, then visit our consumer protection website at www.InYourCornerKansas.org to verify that the roofer is still in good standing.
If you believe you are the victim of a scam, our office is here to help. You can file a complaint with our Consumer Protection Division by visiting www.InYourCornernKansas.org or by calling (800) 432-2310.